Researchers' app extends battery life when you're multitasking

You can't download it, but the tech promises substantial gains.

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Battery life on a phone is bad enough most of the time, but it can be particularly rough if you're fond of split-screen multitasking. Researchers might have a way to wring a little more power out of your device, however. They've developed an app, MultiDroid, that promises to extend battery life on Android phones with OLED screens. The software dynamically lowers the brightness in non-critical parts of the screen depending on how you switch between apps and how long you've left a section idle. Fire up a YouTube video on one half of your screen, for example, and the browser you've left idle in the other half will grow darker.

The app works by automatically creating dimming profiles when you enable the app, and invoking them as vignette-like screen overlays based on predicted power consumption. The goal is always to keep the expected power draw lower than what you'd normally see in a given situation. In tests, it delivered meaningful gains of about 10 to 25 percent per hour. That could make the difference between having to plug in early after a multitasking session or waiting until you get home.

You can't download MultiDroid at the moment, and it's not clear if or when it would be available, whether as an app or as a built-in feature. And it won't benefit phones with LCD screens, as you might have guessed. The app works precisely because OLEDs can dim or shut off individual pixels -- mobile LCD lighting tends to be an all or nothing affair. Nonetheless, this hints at a future where you wouldn't have to worry about your phone's longevity just because you can handle two things at once.

MultiDroid in action

Bottom image credit: Ginny, C. Kumar, K. Naik and M.K. Rohit

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